Skip to main content

Chester County Press

Editorial: New Garden voters: Open your books, just slightly

10/17/2017 12:55PM ● By Richard Gaw
As has been reported in the Chester County Press, the rebirth and resurgence of the Kennett Library in the last few years has become above-the-fold news and one of southern Chester County's most celebrated success stories, and a tick-off list proves it. A new board of directors and a new executive director have provided leadership and vision. A new branding campaign has led to a new name. Finally, and most important to its continuing legacy, plans are in place for a new, larger facility, which will be constructed on State Street in the heart of Kennett Square.
This November, for the second time in three years, New Garden Township's election ballot will include a library tax referendum for the Kennett Library.  Resolution #766 was approved by a vote of 4-0 by the township's board of supervisors at its Jan. 17 meeting. The referendum will read as follows:
"Do you favor increasing New Garden Township's real estate property tax by 0.100 mills, the revenue from such increase to be used exclusively to fund the operation of the Kennett Library?"
The primary reason for including the referendum on the November ballot will be to boost the proportionally low annual contribution the township has been making to the library. According to the library's fair share calculations, New Garden is supposed to be responsible for 8.5 percent of the library's annual total budget, but only funds 1.3 percent to the library every year.
In recent years, the township has given the library $10,500 in annual contributions; this year, they increased that figure to $15,900. It's not enough.
Currently, the township makes up 28 percent of the population of the eight municipality areas that are served by the library, about 18 percent of its cardholders, as well as 23 percent of the library's assessed property values – all of which factor into what the township is supposed to kick back to the library every year.
What will passing the library referendum cost New Garden taxpayers per year? For a residence assessed at $250,000, the library assessment will only be $25 per year per household, and will go toward the dedicated day-to-day expenses of the library. That's twenty-five dollars, less than the cost of a carton of cigarettes; and less than what one would normally pay for a week's worth of double mocha tall cappuccinos purchased from a coffee emporium.
In Nov. 2014, New Garden township residents rejected a similar referendum that if passed would establish an annual dedicated library tax for the library that would cost residents about $37 per year. The referendum was defeated, as 1,279 residents – or 47.67 percent – voted "Yes," and 1,404 – or 52.33 percent – voted "No."
This newspaper believes that the best votes that are cast are made not for ourselves, but for the benefit of others. We also believe that libraries are the playrooms of our educational process, and a quick glance at the Kennett Library's events calendar for the month of October provides stunning proof of that: Family Story Time, International Book Club, Book vs. Movie Club, Science Explorers Club, guest lecturers and more activities too frequent to list in this space.
For the thousands of residents of New Garden Township that the Kennett Library supports, we encourage township voters to visit their Nov. 7 ballot box and vote “Yes” for the passage of the library referendum.
New Garden Township residents are encouraged to come to the township building on 299 Starr Road on Oct. 24 beginning at 7 p.m., for a public meeting about the library referendum. We encourage you to see where your contributions will be going.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to Chester County's free newsletter to catch every headline